By Christine Ludwig – Simplefill member since 4/11/2016
FLOAT LIKE A BUTTTERFLY … STING LIKE A BEE?
When Muhammad Ali exploded onto the sports’ scene years ago, I did not have a strong frame of reference for him. I knew that he was not only an extraordinarily talented boxer, he was articulate and funny, and very handsome. He was brash and radiated confidence. The boxing world and sports fans in general had not seen a champion who encompassed so much talent and generated so much of a “buzz”.
His conversion to Islam, and taking on his new name puzzled us and we were astonished when he refused to be inducted into the US Military. But, time moved on, and it was many years later that I thought about him again . . . after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
He was diagnosed when he was a very young man and his name was well known, so there was much publicity that was generated about what a cruel blow this was to him and to his fans. When I began researching what having Parkinson’s would mean, his name appeared often. I needed to find information about the effect this new condition would have on me. And so, I read many interviews with him; I even took a week-long course that he sponsored about coping with the disease. His endorsement on various PD research efforts and communications appeared often, as did his sponsorship of such efforts.
I was looking for any information I could find that would help me to understand what Parkinson’s disease was, and, most importantly, what effect it would have on my day-to-day life. There was scarce information available – and the information that was out there, was clinical, ie; “lewi bodies” etc. So, I decided to survey people with the diagnosis and used that information to help people who are newly diagnosed to “live well with Parkinson’s”. This resulted in a book which I co-authored titled “Notes from Movers and Shakers with Parkinsons”
Parkinson’s is caused by the lack of dopamine which is produced in the brain. Although each person exhibits a different combination of Parkinson’s symptoms, there are some consistencies:
- Hand tremors (also head and leg)
- Sleep problems
- Balance issues
- Mask-like facial expressions
- Rigidity and stiffness of muscles
- Voice softens, words slur
- Vision issues, constipation etc. etc.
There is no cure for Parkinsons; however, there are surgical procedures and new medications which mediate the symptoms and help to make everyday life more normal. Some of these wonder drugs can make a significant difference, but, can be expensive. Fortunately organizations like SimpleFill can help if financing is a problem.
In helping us to lift our spirits, Mohammad Ali was able to project to those of us who share the diagnosis, by virtue of example, the importance of dignity and humor. He was able to take command of the stage, without needing to dominate. His presence at events, or endorsements of research carried great weight and during his later years, when his physical condition was seriously involved, he left us inspired and proud.
And with newer drugs which can now bring some relief to the symptoms and can slow the progress of the disease, real progress is being made and is reaching more people through programs like SimpleFill!